I’m Too Sexy for My Yoga?

7 02 2018

The Rise of Vanity Yoga

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Though it’s a common occurrence amongst most people in the digital age to fall into what’s known as an ‘internet hole,’ generally the hole is something like cute animal videos or makeup tutorials, which sure, I’ve tripped over those holes a few times myself; I never thought I’d fall into a sexy-person-doing-yoga-at-home-in-a-leotard hole.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened to me the other day. I ended up on Instagram where I watched video after video of these model-looking women do all sorts of inversions: handstands, headstands, forearm stands, with their flexy legs going up and down and around, every single one with their butt hanging out of their outfit, all with this bronzy golden skin, long hair flowing like a waterfall, all seemingly having dancer-esque bodies.

And to be honest, I’ve been confused ever since.

Perhaps, the better word is conflicted.

On the one hand, these women have worked really hard to be strong and flexible. It’s probably been a challenge to become confident in their own bodies, confident in who they are as people, and it takes courage to reveal one’s nearly naked self on the internet. I also understand that many of them probably think it’s the best way to prove they are in proper form. And sure, when I see them I might feel a tinge of envy that they can do some of these power poses better than me.

They are indeed badass, and at times it can feel motivating in an “I want to do that someday” type of way.

But then, on the other hand, something feels icky about the whole thing. I’m going to call the whole scene Vanity Yoga. Because I don’t see how scissoring your legs back and forth while upside down wearing a shiny thong leotard has much in common with actual yoga besides the person’s ability to get in the pose. I mean, a person can make a basketball shot and not be a basketball player.

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Maybe I just don’t get it. I’m curious as to what the underlying motivation of this Vanity Yoga scene is all about. Is it to actually motivate other people? Is it to show off their butts? Is it to prove that they’re better than everyone else? Is it to try to get more people to do yoga because beautiful people clearly do yoga? Is it just for fun? Is it to prove to themselves and others that they can get into these poses? Is it to boost their self-esteem by getting a bunch of ‘likes’ from friends and strangers?

I’m sure it’s some sort of combination of the above (and other factors I haven’t thought of).

I mean, I myself put up a pic when I finally was able to get into full lotus after 20+ years of trying because I was excited (and maybe sort of stuck like that for longer than I wanted to be), so I get it, in a way.

Admittedly the issue might be the near nudity. I’m not puritanical, I like to think of myself as sex-positive and yet it’s weird to sexualize yoga. And maybe that’s not the intention, perhaps it’s just because they’re women and women are almost always automatically sexualized, yet, most women know they’re almost always automatically sexualized… so how can women reveal their progression or show off their accomplishments without objectifying themselves? Maybe they can’t? Maybe that’s what they want to do and who am I to judge?

Yet, the word yoga derives from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’ which means to yoke or bind, and many practitioners interpret as ‘union.’ That union is the union of breath with the mind, body, and spirit.

So, does Vanity Yoga create this union?

Or is it really just vanity for vanity’s sake?

I’m still trying to figure it all out, but for now, I’ll return back to the internet and try to fall down a different hole.

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